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French Man Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Visiting Pro-ISIS Websites (theverge.com) 414

According to French media, a court in the department of Ardeche on Tuesday sentenced a 32-year-old man in France to two years in prison for repeatedly visiting pro-ISIS websites -- even though there was no indication he planned to stage a terrorist attack. Police raided his house and found the man's browsing history. They also found pro-ISIS images and execution videos on his phone, personal computer, and a USB stick, an ISIS flag wallpaper on his computer, and a computer password that was "13novembrehaha," referencing the Paris terrorist attacks that left 130 people dead. Slashdot reader future guy shares with us an excerpt from The Verge's report: In court, the man argued that he visited the sites out of curiosity. "I wanted to tell the difference between real Islam and the false Islam, now I understand," he said, according to FranceBleu. But the man reportedly admitted to not reading other news sites or international press, and family members told the court that his behavior had recently changed. He became irritated when discussing religion, they said, and began sporting a long beard with harem pants. A representative from the Ardeche court confirmed to The Verge that there was no indication that the man had any plans to launch an attack. In addition to the two-year prison sentence, he will have to pay a 30,000 euros (roughly $32,000) fine.
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French Man Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Visiting Pro-ISIS Websites

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  • Thoughtcrime (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Thursday December 01, 2016 @10:31PM (#53405865)

    Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork.

    —Part I, Chapter I, Nineteen Eighty-Four

    • Re:Thoughtcrime (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2016 @11:26PM (#53406097)

      And yet another country loses to terrorism and fearmongering. What a shame. I've been to France before, it used to be a nice place.

    • by bongey ( 974911 )

      George Orwell: political cataloger; delusional sophist; useful socialist idiot that has done nothing but create identify politics and 1984 doomsayers.
      Just read his essays and realize how long people have been saying OMG it is 1984, since 1984 was published.

      • by Threni ( 635302 )

        Your two sentences are at odds. He was an intelligent and popular author - in a time where intelligence wasn't just used to sell things - and he produced a warning about how technology and politics could be used to enslave mankind which we've chosen to ignore. I'm not sure you even know what identity politics is.

    • Yeah, people like you like to play the 1984 card, but it is getting a bit worn along the edges.

      The threat from things like radicalism of various sorts, or from pedophiles (as brought up elsewhere in this thread), is similar to an infectious disease: if left to fester, it spreads amongst the most vulnerable in society, like the young and disenfranchised. So, apart from the question of whether having dangerous thoughts should be considered a crime or not, there is the harm that their presence as a "disease of

    • It's the only way to unite people who don't wish to be united. It's how that great beacon of multiculturalism Singapore does it too.

  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2016 @10:40PM (#53405905)

    Well, if he didn't want to blow things up, this will change his mind quick.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday December 01, 2016 @10:45PM (#53405923) Homepage Journal

    For two reasons:
     
    1) no valid crime (in my opinion) was committed
    2) it's a two year sentence, besides pissing off a bunch of people, what purpose does this serve?
     
    You can't change a person's ideologies by imprisoning them, not without brainwashing them. This seems like the wrong way to address these problems. Imprisoning and fining people for their thoughts and beliefs is likely to cause more people to think this way, rather than deter it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2016 @10:51PM (#53405949)

      2) it's a two year sentence, besides pissing off a bunch of people, what purpose does this serve?

      Telling every citizen that Big Brother is watching them, and that if they know what's good for them they'd better be careful to only read from government-approved news sources, and fap to Church-approved pr0n.

      And giving Trump/Pompeo/Sessions/Pence a legislative proposal to one-up Theresa May's snooper's charter by this time next year.

    • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday December 01, 2016 @11:49PM (#53406179)

      if he was not a terrorist before, he certainly WILL BE, once they let him out.

      nice job, frenchies. smart. real smart.

      we have to go back to calling you surrender-monkeys again. sigh...

    • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Friday December 02, 2016 @01:34AM (#53406559)

      You can't change a person's ideologies by imprisoning them

      Yes you can. Just you watch how that man thinks when he gets out in two years.

    • by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) on Friday December 02, 2016 @02:07AM (#53406615)

      1) no valid crime (in my opinion) was committed

      1) On what basis do you argue that Article 421-2-5-2 was not duly enacted as a valid law of France?

      2) On what basis do you claim your entitlement to an opinion on a matter of French constitutional law?

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        On what basis do you argue that Article 421-2-5-2 was not duly enacted as a valid law of France?

        To a free man it's not valid, because holding that reading the wrong things is criminal is an evil power trip and violates the first principle of human rights. Prohibition was "duly enacted" in the US, too, but it was a stupid, ill-advised, and evil power trip.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        "The Law" on one side and right and wrong on the other are two very different things. He is referring to right and wrong.

    • by bongey ( 974911 )

      Yes a crime was committed. Having a ISIS flag hung up in room, when ISIS has declared war on France makes you basically a saboteur and spy.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      My guess is that they want more domestic terrorism, as that apparently has served the ruling elite well. Hence they try their best to radicalize people and imprisoning them for thought-crimes is a tried-and-true way to do so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2016 @10:46PM (#53405931)

    If you see mosquito larvae infesting a pond, do you kill the larvae or do you wait until they grow into mosquitoes and bite you before swatting them?
    If you see a smoldering ember in a tinder-dry forest, do you stamp it out before it destroys homes, or do you wait to see which way the wind blows?
    If you see someone falling into mental illness, do you treat them early or do you wait until the illness has gripped them and who knows what happens?

    It is a very interesting ethical question that this poses. If the guy's family noticed changes, if the guy admits he wasn't consuming any other media other than pro-jihadist propaganda, and if the guy showed outward signals of becoming fundamentalist, wouldn't you act now rather than wait for him to become a major problem?

    • by aXis100 ( 690904 ) on Thursday December 01, 2016 @11:15PM (#53406061)

      Do you think that 2 years jail when no crime has actually been committed is appropriate though?

      Sure, target him for treatment, counselling and intervention programs, but the actions taken seem like a really slippery slope to though crime.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Does he get to pursue the issue in the ECHR? Because it's hard to imagine any public international law body allowing this to stand.

      • by bongey ( 974911 )

        Yes being saboteur and spy is a crime. Having a ISIS flag hung up in room, when ISIS has declared war on France you are saboteur and spy.

      • Do you think that 2 years jail when no crime has actually been committed is appropriate though?

        If no crime has been committed then by definition he wouldn't have been found guilty and jailed by the courts.

        What you think about the laws is a different thing entirely and a very important distinction to make.

      • by Raenex ( 947668 )

        Do you think that 2 years jail when no crime has actually been committed is appropriate though?

        I agree. He should have been parachuted into ISIS territory. That removes the local threat, gives him what he's idolizing, and a fighting chance. That's pretty fair.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@NoSPaM.nerdflat.com> on Thursday December 01, 2016 @11:15PM (#53406063) Journal
      Regardless of how fundamentalist he might have been becoming, there was no indication that he would have ever committed an actual crime. This is like arresting someone for drunk driving when all they have done is gotten drunk, and you never even gave the guy a chance to call a cab or friend to pick him up
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        This is a thought-crime, the hallmark of a totalitarian state.

    • by richardellisjr ( 584919 ) on Friday December 02, 2016 @12:34AM (#53406343)
      He's not a mosquito, he's not a smoldering ember, he's likely not even a mentally ill person. Imprisoning anyone for researching alternative viewpoints (even if you believe to be evil) is wrong and you don't punish people for it. This man did nothing other than basically research and as far as anyone can tell had no plans to do anything further.
      In my 20s I downloaded a copy of the big book of mischief. I never tried to make anything from the book, probably good I didn't or I might not be here now, however by the logic that convicted this guy I could have faced years in prison... for curiosity.
      No matter which way you cut it this is wrong.
    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      If you see someone falling into mental illness, do you treat them early or do you wait until the illness has gripped them and who knows what happens?

      That sounds more practical than throwing him in prison and letting him out before he's been rehabilitated.

      But I digress. Prison is never really about rehabilitation, it's mainly about revenge.

    • Does everyone who visits 4chan get arrested because they make fun of those jihadi execution videos?
    • by idji ( 984038 )
      act now doesn't have to mean two years in jail and 30,000€ fine. it could be a psychological assessment and warning.
  • Stupid move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Thursday December 01, 2016 @10:54PM (#53405963)

    The smart way of dealing with this is to monitor the suspect.

    Now he will have a good time completing his training in prison, where he will be in touch with real specialists

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      France, the UK, Germany, the USA are now so invested in the NSA, GCHQ methods and national signals intelligence contractors that they cant do anything else.
      Monitoring would need a 9 person team in shifts per interesting person, all that funding is now lost to signals intelligence contractors.
      With millions of very interesting people now wondering around thats a lot of vetted police teams staff to work shifts.
      Most of the EU does not have overtime for that or totally lacks the needed undercover skill sets
    • Maybe you have to read the original article [francebleu.fr] first (French-walled).

      En fond d'écran sur son ordinateur, Brahim a installé le drapeau de Daesh. Le code de son ordinateur "13novembrehaha". Le président s'étonne. Et puis il y a donc la consultation des sites djihadistes. Dernier téléchargement le 16 Novembre. Il y a enfin les témoignages de sa famille qui explique que Brahim était devenu très irritable lorsque l'on parlait de religion. Il s'est laissé poussé la barbe et portait des sarouels.

      "The wallpaper on his computer is an ISIS flag. The password is 'November 13 LOL'. (...) His family said he becomes very irritated when talking about religion. He grew a beard and wears sarouel pants."

      • It sounds like his own family wanted some sort of intervention. While we can debate whether sending a would-be Jihadi to jail before they've even begun planning an attack seems very anti-civil liberties to me, the impression I get is that French authorities weren't the only people concerned about this character.

        And it's not like other countries haven't played the same game. The McCarthy witch hunts were largely predicated on the notion that to be a member of a particular movement automatically made you a tr

        • It sounds like his own family wanted some sort of intervention.

          As usual, involving law enforcement is the wrong call. If you call the cops on a family member for any reason other than an immediate threat to another person, you're doing them a disservice — in pretty much any country. A person having any other sort of crisis would be better served talking to a professional.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        "The wallpaper on his computer is an ISIS flag. The password is 'November 13 LOL'. (...) His family said he becomes very irritated when talking about religion. He grew a beard and wears sarouel pants."

        None of those things cause harm to anyone, and you have adduced no evidence that he advocates or assists the carrying out of harm.

  • Slashdotter jailed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nerd jailed for reading about person who read about someone who heard that someone read about ISIS.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday December 01, 2016 @11:39PM (#53406143) Homepage Journal

    Well, it's a good thing he was stopped before he could release a low-grade hip-hop album...

  • Sometimes it take a day or three. It doesn't mean I agree with the website, it means I'm intrigued by something, or "aw hell no" by something.

    So now curiosity can put me in jail? Really?
    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Friday December 02, 2016 @12:14AM (#53406277)

      The law specifically requires "habitual" viewing, so theoretically you wouldn't be charged unless you visited regularly over a period of time. Also, probably more relevantly, not unless you're living in France.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        The law specifically requires "habitual" viewing

        So do you think that if I spend time learning about Nazism, or Communism, or jihadism, or ... christianity perhaps ... including getting input from their proponents and practitioners, that should make me a criminal? I hereby issue a "fuck you" to those trying to make it so.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday December 02, 2016 @01:11AM (#53406485) Journal

      Sometimes it take a day or three. It doesn't mean I agree with the website, it means I'm intrigued by something, or "aw hell no" by something.

      I think the problem was the harem pants. They offended the French sense of fashion. If he had just gone with the beard and maybe a man-bun, he'd have been on the cover of French Vogue.

      I imagine some wannabe jihadi in MC Hammer pants singing "Can't Touch This" in arabic. Don't look at me like that. It's how I deal with the world.

      • I imagine some wannabe jihadi in MC Hammer pants singing "Can't Touch This" in arabic. Don't look at me like that. It's how I deal with the world.

        Here Comes the IED, U Can't Disarm This, Have You Seen Her? (Subtitled, force her to wear her veil...)

  • Random observation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Friday December 02, 2016 @01:31AM (#53406553) Homepage Journal

    A few years ago I went through TSA with my laptop. Naturally they wanted to search it. No problem. I thought.

    I'd forgotten that at the time, my documents directory auto synced whenever I logged into my network at home. At the time, I was writing a fiction story.

    All kinds of excitement occurred.

    Now I keep all my stuff in the cloud outside of "five eyes" treaty partners and any time I think I might have an "interaction" with LEO, I mercine wipe my drive and install fresh. I still get harassed because obviously I "must be a terrorist" because I don't use windows. Solution; Small windows boot partition by default and some random porn files. (If they don't find anything, they just keep looking. So I give them a little something obvious to keep them off my back.)

    When did we start being more afraid of our own government than of terrorist? The world has gone crazy except for you and me, I'm slowly slipping away and I was never too sure about you.

  • I see this as similar to laws against holocaust denial, which incidentally is also illegal in France. This ISIS fan was actively demonstrating sympathy for ISIS terrorism (his defense is laughable, the password and wallpaper and behavior changes aren't mere curiosity), just as holocaust deniers are typically taken to be demonstrating sympathy for Nazi terrorism. I don't approve of either law as restrictions on freedom of thought and speech, but I don't think this is a slippery slope, because it's nothing f

    • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      This is way beyond holocaust denial - which actually requires denying the holocaust, not just visiting websites talking about it.

      This ISIS fan was actively demonstrating sympathy for ISIS terrorism (his defense is laughable

      What's laughable is the size of the stones being thrown from within the glass house. The United States and it's allies are the worst terrorist nations on the planet - should we lock people up for reading terrorism-supporting news outlets like the NYTimes or the Washington Post?

  • The fact that it doesn't have a picture or name of the "French man" makes me suspect that this "french man" is in fact a Muslim and hates liberty, fraternity, and equality and everything that France stands for. This being the case getting another one off the streets is a good thing.
  • by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Friday December 02, 2016 @05:35AM (#53407105)

    If he wasn't radicalized before, when he gets out of prison, he surely will be. Mission accomplished, idiots.

  • French criminal law is different from the US. For cases involving penalties of up to 15 years of prison, guilt isn't determined by a jury but by a judge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Plus laws pertaining to State Security are a bit sharper there and less encumbered by checks and balances. http://www.theverge.com/2016/2... [theverge.com]

    From the desciription It sounds as if the French authorities were careful to collect evidence that might allow one of their judges to decide whether the suspect was merely curious o

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